- According to a 2014 national survey conducted by Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership, one in three young people ages 18 to 21 reported growing up without a mentor of any kind, The Hechinger Report notes.
- Individuals who have mentors often perform better at their jobs, earn higher salaries and achieve faster career progression than non-mentored individuals. In high school, mentorship can help students find a career path and connect with the right people and resources to support their advancement.
- Schools and businesses both play a role in increasing mentorship opportunities: Schools can adopt more work-based study opportunities, and businesses can open their doors through internships, part-time employment opportunities, and participation in work-based programs.
The article notes that “the myth of individual exceptionalism, that truly motivated people can pull themselves up by their boot straps, obscures how people really get ahead — with the assistance of others.” More affluent students often have the chance to network with successful individuals and find mentors to help them jump-start their future careers. However, less-affluent students often lack those networking opportunities and having a mentor can help them along the way.
Schools can help students find mentors by connecting with businesses to offer work-based learning opportunities. These opportunities benefit students by allowing them to explore career pathways in real-world settings and connect with a mentor in the field. Businesses benefit by connecting with potential future employees.
The benefits of mentors for beginning teachers is widely known in educational circles. However, many of those same benefits apply to mentoring for high school students and even middle school students, especially those who are at risk of not graduating. School leaders can seek out community partnerships that create more mentoring opportunities.
As schools pursue mentorship programs in various forms, it's also important for school leaders to make sure that background checks and other safeguards are in place. Earlier this year, a mentor coach in Leon County, Florida, was arrested on stalking and battery charges involving a minor, leading to a reevaluation of the mentor coach program. However, as long as proper precautions are taken, mentors can provide a valuable service to students and may change the direction of young person’s life for the better.